Maria Zannini is from North Texas. Her first book, Touch of Fire came out in May 2008 from Samhain Press. She is a busy, prolific writer juggling several projects including an upcoming vampire story.
Maria, thanks so much for taking the time for this interview!
What contemporary authors have influenced you?
Jim Butcher is at the top of my list. And Ann Aguirre is a new writer (to me) who has quickly made me a fan too.
Tell us about the world you have created for Touch of Fire.
Touch Of Fire is set 1200 years in the future. The centuries have forgotten all technology and society knows only Elemental magic, the kind wielded by the fae, mages who can control one of the four Elements: earth, water, air and fire. When a dangerous alchemist’s book surfaces, Leda, a young fire mage, is ordered to find it before it lands in the wrong hands. The trail leads her to Greyhawke Tams, an ex-soldier turned scavenger who has no intention of helping her or her kind.
Grey and Leda live in a world that gives very little quarter to the weak, where people die a cruel death or suffer a worse fate by not dying at all.
I thoroughly loved weaving little clues throughout the story that reminds the reader that there are still bits of the Earth we know buried in artifacts and rituals. I think that’s the part most people will get a kick out of. You recognize this world—and yet you don’t.
What inspired the story?
I am fascinated by post apocalyptic stories, pagan rites and magic. One day I read an article about how the Mayan calendar abruptly ends on 12-21-12 and I thought: What a marvelous jumping off point for a novel. It gave me a chance to use familiar things of the 21st century and blur their meanings.
How did the characters of Leda and Greyhawke evolve? Will they be featured in the sequel?
Oh, I love these two. They’re damaged goods, but they’re not bitter—just set in their ways. I wanted them to start out with baggage that they’ll have to deal with in order to beat the bad guy. Despite themselves, they fall in love.
And yes, they’ll be back! If you read Touch Of Fire, it will give you the segue into the sequel. This time an Elemental witch meets a coven of 21st century witches. Expect a lot of hex play.
Should readers deduce from the steamy cover that there will be plenty of steamy scenes within?
LOL! Absolutely. This isn’t erotica, but it is a sensual romance. You might want to have your significant other nearby. (wink) It is at heart a love story, but it’s also about physical attraction and how we’re sometimes our own worst enemy when we see somebody we want.
Will you continue to write in the fantasy genre?
Yes. I love this genre! While I sometimes have a thin thread of science fiction in my books, it’s only to give the story some credence in the real world. I think what makes a story more chilling is when there’s a sliver of truth within the paranormal elements that are woven into it. But I’ve been a lifelong student of the paranormal—and sometimes a participant. I write what I know best.
What are you working on now?
I’m working on two novels simultaneously and a third one that’s in the outline stage. Something I thought I’d never do. I am finishing up the edits to a paranormal historical full of pirates, werewolves and gargoyles that like Touch Of Fire will have a twist at the end. I’m also fleshing out the first draft for the sequel to Touch Of Fire. The third project does involve a vampire, but it’s not blood he’s after. It’s the victim’s ch’i.
What is your writing environment like?
Tomb silent. (Cue creepy music.) I need the silence so I can hear the voices in my head.
What are you reading at the moment?
Sadly, mostly dry research material. When I write my books, I want to make sure I have all the facts straight, so I’ve been poring over wiccan culture, and all the latest theories on time travel.
Where can we find you most days?
I blog at least 3-4 times a week at www.mariazannini.blogspot.com and my website is updated weekly, Between the two you can usually find me at my computer, head down and fingers blurring across the keyboard. I do this to convince my husband that I am indeed a working author. For some reason he doesn’t think staring out the window constitutes a legitimate work activity.
I tell him it’s research. (grin)
Thanks for having me, Patricia! It’s been a pleasure.
Buy TOUCH OF FIRE